Monster Energy Cup Series News

Monster Energy Cup Series News (14598)

Two-time DAYTONA 500 Champion, Matt Kenseth, will sport the primary colors promoting Ford EcoBoost at Auto Club Speedway this upcoming weekend.  This is the first time that the No. 17 entry for Roush Fenway Racing will carry the Ford EcoBoost paint scheme and comes at a track where Kenseth has achieved success at in the past; including three Sprint Cup victories.

Ford EcoBoost earned its first NASCAR victory as a primary sponsor at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 Ford.  Ford EcoBoost technology uses turbo-charging and direct gasoline injection to boost engine output, thus reducing emissions and improving fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent.

Ford will offer fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, tripling the production capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. Expanded availability in high-volume nameplates helps make fuel economy more affordable for hundreds of thousands of drivers.

“I wish we had EcoBoost in our race car because it would help us with horsepower and fuel mileage,” said Kenseth regarding the EcoBoost technology.  “I have driven a few of the Ford EcoBoost vehicles and I think it is great because you still have a lot of horsepower, especially for people who are car enthusiasts and like having the power, but you still have the great fuel mileage as well. I think it has been a big hit for Ford and their customers and I am excited to have it on my car this weekend at Fontana.”

The premiere of the No. 17 Ford EcoBoost Fusion will take place on March 25, 2012 for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.  Kenseth boasts three Sprint Cup wins, eight top fives, and 13 top-ten finishes at the 2.0-mile track including an average finish of 9.9. The Auto club 400 will be broadcast on FOX Sunday, March 25 with television coverage beginning at 2:30 P.M. EDT and radio coverage provided by the Motor Racing Network.

RFR PR

Tommy Baldwin Racing (TBR) had a solid point day for both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) teams at Bristol Motor Speedway. David Reutimann started 19th in the Food City 500 and battled the handling of the No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet to finish in 21st-place. The solid finish catapulted the No. 10 to 36th place in the NSCS Owner Points, four points outside the top-35. Dave Blaney started 35th and looked to have a good day when the sway bar broke loose on the right front and caused the No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet to go 83 laps down. Blaney finished in the 34th position, which kept him in the top-25 in NSCS Owner Points.


David Reutimann: No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet
The No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet rolled off the truck fast as Reutimann posted the 24th-fastest time in practice on Friday and the 19th-quickest qualifying lap. The car improved Saturday, and the Zephryhills, Fla., native posted the 16th and third-fastest times in the final two practice sessions.

Reutimann started the Food City 500 from the 10th row and worked up to the 16th position by the first caution on lap 25 for a seven-car incident. He radioed to the crew that the Tradebank Chevrolet was very loose. NASCAR Officials called the competition caution during the first caution period, and the No. 10 team pit for two right-side tires and a trackbar adjustment.

The No. 10 Chevrolet restarted 21st on lap 47. Reutimann drove into the 19th position 15 laps later. Reutimann radioed that the car was better but needed help turning in the center of the corner. During the lap 117 caution, Crew Chief Tommy Baldwin called a four-tire pit stop and air pressure adjustment. When the field went back to green-flag racing, the No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet was in the 19th position.

By lap 200, the No. 10 fell a lap down while in 20th place. Reutimann radioed that the car was really tight, had no front grip and slid the nose in the center of the turn. The Tradebank team made a green-flag pit stop on lap 245. Baldwin called for four tires and a wedge adjustment.

On lap 292, Reutimann fell a second lap down, and Baldwin reassured his driver that the team would make a big adjustment on the next pit stop to help the handling of the No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet. David Stremme spun in turn four on lap 340 and brought out a caution. The No. 10 team made a four-tire pit stop with major chassis adjustments.

Reutimann took the green flag on lap 372 from the 24th position. NASCAR Officials called a caution for Jeff Gordon’s incident in turn three on lap 361. Reutimann told the team that the car was better but still had trouble turning. Baldwin opted to change right-side tires and make an air pressure adjustment.

The No. 10 Tradebank Chevrolet restarted 21st on lap 372. Reutimann continued to race in the top-22 and reinforced that the car was tight and would skid the nose and get loose in the center of the corner. The final caution was called on lap 479, and the team took one last opportunity to adjust the Chevrolet. The No. 10 team made a two-tire pit stop and trackbar adjustment. Reutimann finished in the 21st position, three laps down.

The No. 10 team is now in 36th place in NSCS Owner Points, four points outside of the top-35. The team is six points ahead of the No. 21 in 37th and four points behind the No. 83. Reutimann is 30th in NSCS Driver Points. He is four points behind David Gilliland and two points ahead of Casey Mears.

“The weekend started off really well,” commented Reutimann. “The car unloaded really fast, and the team made some really good adjustments during practice. By final practice, I felt very good about the car’s handling. Unfortunately, the car struggled with handling during the race. We tried a few different things but just couldn’t get it to turn in the center of the corner. All in all, it was a good point day. We just have to focus on making up the four points and getting in the top-35 by Martinsville.”


Dave Blaney: No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet
Blaney posted the 32nd-fastest time in practice on Friday and qualified the No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet into the Food City 500 with a 35th-quick qualifying lap. Saturday, the team worked on the car’s race setup and posted the 32nd and 26th-fastest times in the day’s two practice sessions.

Blaney took the green flag of the Food City 500 from the tail end of the field because the team changed the transmission of the No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet. He drove up to the 30th spot by the first caution on lap 25. As NASCAR Officials called the caution as the competition caution, the No. 36 team pit for two tires and a trackbar adjustment. The team restarted in the 26th position on lap 47.

The Hartford, Ohio native kept the SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet in the 26th position until the second caution for the No. 32 car in turn two on lap 117, just one lap after the leader passed Blaney. Recipient of the lucky dog, Blaney pit for four tires and trackbar and air pressure adjustments, and the No. 36 restarted in the 26th position on the lead lap.

Four laps after the restart, Blaney radioed that something felt wrong with the No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet.  By lap 180, Blaney radioed that the problem was getting worse and they needed to pit. He pulled down pit road and the SealWrap/Widow Wax team quickly assessed that it was a problem with the sway bar. Crew Chief Ryan Pemberton called for the team to push the car behind the wall to fix the problem. While the team worked to reconnect the sway bar, Blaney fell 80 laps down.

The No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet returned to the racetrack on lap 261. Blaney radioed that the car was tight in the corner. NASCAR Officials called a caution on lap 341 for the No. 30 in turn four. Pemberton called for the team to make a four-tire pit stop and trackbar adjustment to help the tight condition. The field went back to green-flag racing on lap 347 with Blaney in the 36th position.

Still struggling with a tight condition, Blaney pit for four tires and a chassis adjustment during the lap 361 yellow flag. The No. 36 SealWrap/Widow Wax Chevrolet continued to race in the 36th position and moved to the 35th spot on lap 420. Blaney held onto the position until the checkered flag.

The 35th-place finish moved the No. 36 Chevrolet to 25th place in the NSCS Owner Points. The team is four points ahead of the No. 22 and six points behind the No. 9. Blaney is also 25th in NSCS Driver Points. He is four points ahead of AJ Allmendinger and six points behind Marcos Ambrose.

“The team worked really hard on improving the car during the practice sessions, and I felt we had a good package for the race,” Blaney said. “We were gaining spots at the beginning and worked to better the handling of the car. Unfortunately, we had the sway bar come off early in the race and went laps down while we fixed it. We are still solid in the top-35, so we just have to focus on having a decent run next weekend.”


TBR will head out west for the Auto Club 400. Reutimann will pilot the No. 10 TBR Chevrolet, while Blaney attempts to qualify the No. 36 TBR Chevrolet at Auto Club Speedway.

TBR

The Bobby Labonte Foundation announced today plans for the Archdale Drug "Share the Road" Memorial Bike Ride to be a part of the newly-created "Heart of Carolinas Triple Crown", a three-race cycling series in North Carolina that includes Tour de Kale and Operation Red Sleigh. The "Share the Road" Memorial Bike Ride, benefitting Bike Belong and Randolph County Schools, will be the first ride in the series and is planned for Sunday, May 20 with registration opening at 11:00 a.m. and the ride beginning at 1:00 p.m. The event will start and finish at Wheatmore High School in Trinity, N.C. The next event in the "Heart of Carolinas Triple Crown" will be the Tour de Kale planned for Saturday, June 16 and benefitting Charles (Chuck) and Tammy Shoaf and James (Jimmy) Martin. The triple crown will conclude with the Operation Red Sleigh bike ride on Saturday, July 21 to also benefit Randolph County Schools and children in need.

The new series will have timing and scoring with a leader jersey awarded at the end of the event to the overall best times in the longest distance events. At the end of the series, cash and prizes will be given to the overall winner in both male and female divisions. Cyclists must compete in all 3 events to be eligible for the cash and prizes at the end of the series. The three-race series will be administered by a board including Rodney Simpson, Chris Skeen, Kris Hickey and Greg Seabolt.

Cyclists can register now for the Archdale Drug "Share the Road" Memorial Bike Ride and also the other "Heart of Carolinas Triple Crown" rides at www.bobbylabontefoundation.org. The cost is $75 for all three events.

"It's great that we can include the Archdale Drug "Share The Road" Memorial Ride into this new series," said Bobby Labonte. "Hopefully having a series like this will unite not only the cycling community, but make all three events bigger and better in the future."

Rodney Simpson is also excited about this new series. He believes it's something new and unique for all riders.

"This series will be new to the state and gives riders a way to give back to the community while competing at the same time," said "It's great that we can get all the events to come together. This will really help benefit the biking community as a whole."

Breaking Limits PR

Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished sixth (Jeff Burton), 10th (Paul Menard), 11th (Kevin Harvick) and 22nd (Brendan Gaughan) in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
  • Burton's 6.718 average running position was fifth-best amongst the 43-car field.
  • Burton had the fourth-highest driver rating with a 107.3.
  • Burton spent 92 percent of the race (460 laps) running in the top 15.
  • Menard tied for fifth in NASCAR's Loop Data category for Closers driving from 13th to 10th in the final 50 laps (10 percent) of the Food City 500.
  • With an average speed of 112.259 mph during the last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop, Menard ranked 10th in the NASCAR Loop Data category Fastest Drivers Late in a Run.
  • Harvick tied for sixth in the NASCAR Loop Data category Green-Flag Passes, overtaking 49 positions en route to his 11th-place finish.
  • Harvick ranked ninth in the Loop Data category Fastest Drivers Late in a Run with an average speed of 112.322 mph.
  • Harvick moved up one position to second in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers championship point standings, just nine points behind leader Greg Biffle.
  • The event at Bristol served as Gaughan's 40th-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start and his third of four races with the Welcome, N.C.-based organization.
  • Brad Keselowski scored the win in Sunday's race at Bristol Motor Speedway with Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers completing the top five.
  • The next NSCS race is the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 25, televised live on FOX beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM Satellite Radio beginning at 2 p.m. EST.
  •  

     

    2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards

    Paul Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards Team Earn a Top-10 Finish in Thunder Valley

    Paul Menard and the No. 27 Moen/Menards team emerged unscathed from Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to earn their third top-10 finish of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Starting from the 11th position, Menard raced in the top 15 for the majority of the 500-lap affair. Utilizing visits to pit road while under caution, the Slugger Labbe-led crew applied adjustments to help the No. 27 Chevrolet's tight-center handling and drive off of the corners. Just past the halfway point of the event, Menard reported the drive off was much improved but the car's balance was now hindered with the splitter hitting the track. Despite additional adjustments, the splitter issue persisted. However, the Eau Claire, Wis., native remained in the top 15. Labbe called Menard to pit road during the last caution period of the afternoon and the Moen/Menards pit crew serviced the Chevrolet with right-side Goodyear tires. Restarting in the top 10, Menard drove as high as sixth in the final 27 laps, but finished 10th as he continued to struggle with a tight-handling condition at the end of the race. Menard moved up one position to 10th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
    .

    Start - 11                 Finish - 10                Laps Led - 0 Points - 10

    PAUL MENARD QUOTE:

    "Track position was everything today. We stayed out of trouble for 500 laps, but struggled to make it out of the top 15. The Moen/Menards team did a great job in the pits today, too. The last pit stop moved us into the top 10 and I thought we had enough to get into the top five, but the car tightened up a lot at the very end. Still, a top 10 is a solid finish, especially in the points."

     

    2011 CC Team Logo NSCS 29 BUD 150 px

    Kevin Harvick and the Budweiser Racing Team Overcome Early Incident to Finish 11th at Bristol

    Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team rebounded from an early wreck to score an 11th-place finish in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. After starting the 500-lap affair from the 14th position, Harvick quickly gained one position before cars ahead of him made contact in turns one and two where and the No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet was collected in the aftermath. He brought the car to pit road multiple times under caution for service and crew chief Shane Wilson calmly instructed the team on the repair plan, making sure they remained on the lead lap . After a lengthy caution period to clean up the debris from the accident, the 18-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner restarted in the 35th position at lap 46. With more than 450 laps remaining in the event, Harvick and crew knew if they were patient and stayed out of additional trouble, there was still plenty of time left to work their way back up into contention at Thunder Valley. Patiently working on the Budweiser Chevrolet at every opportunity, Wilson called for adjustments on the handling during the team's additional five visits to pit road over the course of the event Their perseverance paid off as Harvick and the Budweiser Racing Team were able to battle back to take the checkered flag in the 11th position and in the process, gain ground on the leader of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, sitting only nine markers out of the top spot.

    Start - 14                  Finish - 11                Laps Led - 0                Points - 2

    KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:

    You guys were in the first wreck today. What happened there?

    "By the time they told me to check up, I was in it. I didn't even have time to touch the brakes before I was into the car in front of me. All in all, I think we had a fairly decent day considering all the damage. We hung onto the lead lap all day and finished 11th. I think everybody did a good job and I've just got to thank everybody on my No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet team for fixing the car up and doing the best we could with a wrecked car."

    A lot of guys said guys were racing way too hard too early. Is that what happened out there?
    "Probably not. It's one of those things where it's just so hard to pass and everybody gets to running up high and it becomes so hard to pass that you take all you can when you can get it."

     

     

    2011 CC Team Logo NSCS 31 CAT

    Jeff Burton Tops Off Consistent Effort with Top-10 Finish at Bristol

    Jeff Burton and the No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet team scored their second top-10 finish of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, placing sixth in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Burton began his trek to the front early in the event after qualifying 33rd on Friday. Crew chief Drew Blickensderfer knew the 500-lap race at the half-mile bullring would turn into a trademark "track position race" for drivers and made the decision to keep South Boston, Va. native on the track under the first yellow-flag period on lap 25 instead of coming to pit road for routine service. The result of the decision was a top-10 restarting position for Burton and valuable track position that he did not relinquish for the remainder of the event. The Richard Childress Racing driver showcased the raw speed and handling that his Chevrolet Impala possessed by bullying his way up to as high as third position before a lap-341 yellow-flag period. Under that caution, Burton was directed by Blickensderfer to start conserving fuel in the event the remainder of the race was completed under green-flag conditions. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner dropped to seventh while saving fuel and wrestling with a tight condition that developed on the No. 31 machine toward the conclusion of the race. Burton was able to hang tough and finish off the final 17-lap dash to the checkered flag in the sixth position, scoring the highest finish for Chevrolet in the 43-car field. With the strong finish, Burton now sits 11th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 37 points behind current leader Greg Biffle.

    Start - 33                  Finish - 6                Laps Led - 0                Points - 11

    JEFF BURTON QUOTE:

    "I really couldn't be any more proud of the guys working on this BB&T Chevrolet. We qualified poorly on Friday and worked hard to get the car where it needed to be for a top-five run today. It just shows how important track position really is at a place like Bristol."



    Brendan Gaughan Finishes 22nd in the Thunder Valley of Bristol Motor Speedway

    Brendan Gaughan and the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet team earned a 22nd-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Starting from the 32nd position, Gaughan moved up to the 25th position when the first caution flag of the day came out for a multicar incident on lap 23. The extended clean up lasted until the NASCAR-mandated competition caution on lap 40, but crew chief Gil Martin made the call for the No. 33 Chevrolet to stay out to gain track position. The Las Vegas-native held strong in the top-15 for much of the first 150 laps, but fell back to 23rd on lap 196 and went one lap down to the leaders as he reported a concern with the throttle spring. Gaughan continued to battle his way around the track, posting times that rivaled the times of the top-15 positions. As the laps ticked down, Gaughan reported he lost his front brakes, and on lap 476, he made contact with the No. 14 car, bringing out the yellow flag. Martin called the driver to come down pit road during the caution on lap 480 to take a look at the brakes, changing four tires and fuel. As the field restarted for the final laps, Gaughan competed in the 22nd position and remained there to take the checkered flag. Gaughan returns to the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet next week at Auto Club Speedway for his final of four races in the RCR Sprint Cup Series entry.

    Start - 32                  Finish - 22                Laps Led - 0                Points - n/a

    BRENDAN GAUGHAN QUOTE:

    "I hate that our day ended that way. We lost our front brakes there toward the end of the race and got into the No. 14 car, which I hate for their team. We had a good day on track and in the pits. Thanks to Gil (Martin), Richard Childress and the entire No. 33 team. I'm looking forward to heading to Fontana next week for our last race on the schedule in the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet."

It’s rare when Tony Stewart is happy with a 14th-place finish, but considering his performances of late at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Stewart’s 14th-place run in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday was a welcome reprieve.

“Really proud of Steve (Addington, crew chief) and proud of our guys,” said Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). “They worked hard all day and fought through it all day.”

Stewart was poised to finish among the top-10 until an out-of-control Brendan Gaughan tagged him in turn three on lap 479, sending Stewart’s Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy backward into the SAFER Barrier that lines the outside retaining wall.

“Brendan came down and told me and all of my guys sorry, which we really appreciated,” Stewart said. “He went down into (turn three) and the brake pedal went to the floor. It’s kind of good that I was there to somewhat slow him down a little bit, but at the same time, we had a top-10 run going there, which for the way we’ve run here the last couple trips, it’s a big improvement.”

Stewart’s results at the .533-mile bullring have been feast and famine – and more famine in recent years. With the exception of a second-place finish in March 2010, Stewart’s best Bristol result in his last six trips to the east Tennessee oval was 17th in August 2009.

The 52nd annual Food City 500 still proved to be a chore for Stewart and Co., but the reigning Sprint Cup champions persevered all weekend, overcoming their 23rd-place starting spot to crack the top-10 after 380 laps.

Part of that battle to crack the top-10 involved a spirited duel with eventual race winner Brad Keselowski to stay on the lead lap. Stewart raced the driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge for nearly 20 laps around lap 300, eventually succumbing to Keselowski’s blistering pace.

But Stewart hung tough, maintaining his spot as the first car one lap down. And when the caution flag waved on lap 341, Stewart was awarded the “Lucky Dog” to earn his lap back.

As the last car on the lead lap, Stewart took the opportunity to improve his car during back-to-back pit stops on laps 343 and 367, respectively. The adjustments ordered by crew chief Steve Addington worked. By lap 390, Stewart was working over polesitter Greg Biffle for ninth place.

“This was a race just to stay on the lead lap,” Stewart said. “When we finally got the caution – there were only 15 of us at the time that were on the lead lap.

“Normally, 14th isn’t something we’re too happy about, but compared to how we’ve been, I thought we made big gains on it today.”

Stewart’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet Impala, finished 12th.

With round four of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is seventh with 130 points, 27 behind series leader Biffle. Newman is 12th with 118 points, 39 out of first.

Keselowski’s victory in the Food City 500 was the fifth of his Sprint Cup career, his first of the season and his second consecutive victory at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth finished .714 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

TSC

Kurt Busch and the No. 51 Phoenix Racing team arrived at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway with specific objectives – log laps and finish the race. They did just that, scoring an 18th-place finish in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.

“That was a good run for us,” said Busch, a five-time Bristol winner. “It was the same thing all weekend. We couldn’t get the car to turn and never could find any grip. It started that way on Friday, and we never could come up with an answer for it. Our plan for today was to complete laps and be there at the end. We just missed it a little, but we’re taking the car back in one piece, and that was one of our objectives.”

Busch, the driver of the No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet Impala, started 27th and immediately encountered the same issue he fought since the car was unloaded at Bristol – the car wouldn’t turn. The first caution waved on lap 25 for a multi-car accident that unfolded in front of the No. 51 Chevrolet. Busch avoided the incident and made a pit stop for a track bar adjustment and fuel. Busch was in 20th place when green-flag racing resumed, but the lack of front grip continued to be a problem.

The team made another round of adjustments during the second caution on lap 115, adjusting the air pressure and wedge, changing four tires and adding fuel. As soon as green-flag racing resumed on lap 121 Busch reported that the front tires were sliding, making the car feel like it was “on skis.” The race would run under green-flag conditions for the next 200-plus laps, giving the leaders plenty of time to start lapping cars. Busch fell a lap down on lap 233 while running in 20th place. Less than 10 laps after being lapped, Busch told the team he thought the right-rear tire was flat. He quickly brought the No. 51 Chevrolet to pit road, where the team changed all four tires and added fuel. As Busch returned to the track, the team discovered that the cap of the right-rear tire had burned off during the course of the long, green-flag run. The unscheduled stop dropped Busch to 31st place, three laps down to the leaders.

Fortunately for 2004 Sprint Cup champion Busch, the rest of the field came down pit road just a few laps later for scheduled pit stops. So Busch ended up only one lap down, running in 20th, when green-flag stops cycled through on lap 263.

The third caution of the race was displayed on lap 339. Still trying to find front grip in the No. 51 Chevrolet, the team added wedge and adjusted the air pressure on the rear tires, sending Busch back on track in 20th place. When racing resumed, Busch reported the car was “all over the place.” It was discovered the team made a mistake and went the wrong direction with the wedge adjustment, taking rounds out rather than adding. But the team caught another break when the caution was displayed for the fourth time just a few laps later, giving Busch the opportunity to pit to make the correct adjustment on the No. 51 Chevrolet.

Busch was in 20th place when green-flag racing resumed on lap 371. During the course of the next 100 laps, he picked up two more positions. The fifth and final caution was displayed on lap 479 when reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was sent spinning due to contact from Brendan Gaughan. The No. 51 team made the decision to pit for four fresh tires. Busch restarted the race from 18th place and maintained the position to the checkered flag.

Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth finished .714 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top 10.

There were five caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round four of 36 complete, Busch is 27th in the championship point standings with 70 points, 87 behind series leader Greg Biffle.

Kyle Busch’s bid to win a sixth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway barely lasted five minutes Sunday after he was caught in a lap-23 incident during the Food City 500 that heavily damaged the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).

Busch and the rest of the 43-car field were just getting settled in for 500 laps of racing around the .533-mile, high-banked concrete oval when, while running 12th, he and Marcos Ambrose were collected by the No. 5 racecar of Kasey Kahne and the No. 78 of Regan Smith, who were stopped sideways against the outside SAFER Barrier entering turn one. Busch limped his No. 18 Toyota back to the garage with heavy front-end damage. The crew worked fast and furiously to cut away bent sheet metal and replace key front-end components and got Busch back on track 72 laps later, in 39th place, without hood and front fenders.

From there, Busch made up seven positions and brought his wounded racecar home in 32nd place, 77 laps down and ahead of Ambrose (36th), Kahne (37th) and Carl Edwards (39th), who also was involved in the incident. Smith wound up 24th.

“What happened today was really nobody’s fault,” said crew chief Dave Rogers, who guided Busch to his last two Bristol victories in back-to-back fashion in August 2010 and March 2011. “The (No.) 5 got turned sideways going into (turn) one, the (No.) 78 got into him, and then the (No. 9) and us got into them. It’s just a product of racing here. Nobody did anything wrong. But I’m really proud of our guys today. A lot of really good teams were involved in that early wreck, and we were the first ones back out there on the track and we were running pretty competitive laps the rest of the way, all things considered.

“We picked up seven points by getting back out there and finishing the race the way we did,” Rogers said. “As you know, every point is important. It’s just a shame we were out before the track even got a chance to get rubbered up. We had some things we really thought we were onto with the car as far as what we’re going to want to do in preparation for the Chase (for the Sprint Cup championship), but we never had a chance to see how the car would react. It’s a shame for Kyle because he has been so good here lately. But he’ll be back strong next week at Fontana. He’s a competitor, so that would have been the case whether we won here today, or whether we got wrecked out.”

Busch’s JGR companions – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Toyota Camry, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry – finished 16th and 20th, respectively.

Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second consecutive victory at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth finished .714 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round four of 36 complete, Hamlin leads the Team Interstate trio in the championship point standings. He is fifth with 137 points, 20 behind series leader Greg Biffle. Logano stands ninth with 126 points, 31 out of first, and Busch is 15th with 99 points, 58 away from the top spot.

TSC

An early incident in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race spoiled a strong qualifying effort and a potentially solid run for Regan Smith, who drove a crippled race car to a 24th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Smith, who started the Food City 500 from the sixth position, was getting settled in at the half-mile oval when he and Kasey Kahne made contact in Turn 1 on Lap 24 of 500, triggering a seven-car accident.

Though Smith avoided crashing into the wall or getting clipped by another car, his No. 78 Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet suffered major front-end damage.

“I am not sure why the incident with Kasey happened, but it was way too early in the race for anything like that to occur,” said Smith. “He came up on me and I didn’t have any place to go. He might have thought he cleared me, but he didn’t. It was costly for us as it was for many other teams.”

Smith added, “After the incident we just didn’t have the same race car that we practiced and qualified with. We were handicapped, which was unfortunate, because I felt we could have produced a pretty good finish today.”

Due to the lack of cautions, Smith found himself two laps down before the halfway mark and was running in the low to mid 30s. But the Furniture Row driver battled hard to gain as much ground as possible.

“We didn’t give up, just tried to squeeze out as many positions as we could in our Furniture Row/CSX Play it Safe Chevrolet,” noted Smith, who ended the race four laps down. “You’re going to have days like this. It’s no fun, but you have to deal with it and make the best of what you have.”

Smith is tied for 19th in driver points, but is listed as 20th with the tiebreaker going to Jamie McMurray.

The Bristol race winner was Brad Keselowski.  Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard.

FRR PR

Ryan Newman felt like his No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet Impala was one of the cars to beat in the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, but a tight-handling racecar hampered his efforts on the racetrack and led to a disappointing 12th-place finish.

“I feel like we let one slip away today,” said Newman, who has six finishes of 12th or better in seven starts at Bristol with his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team. “We were better all weekend than a 12th-place finish, that’s for sure. That’s definitely not what we wanted today. Our Quicken Loans Chevy was fast off the truck, and we were strong all weekend. The guys did good in the pits, and they worked hard all day. But we just could never adjust on it the way we needed. We were just way too tight.”

After qualifying third Friday and ending practice Saturday as the fastest car, Newman was confident heading into the 500-lap race Sunday afternoon at Bristol. But while running third early in the race, Newman reported a tight-handling condition in the corners to crew chief Tony Gibson.

A caution at lap 25 afforded the team its first opportunity to try to fix Newman’s tight-handling condition. But with only a handful of laps completed, many of those during a side-by-side battle with Jeff Gordon, Newman told Gibson he preferred to make no chassis changes and see what happened. The crew changed right-side tires and added fuel.

While the pit stop was flawless, the tight confines of pit road at the .533-mile racetrack which can often make entering and exiting tricky hurt Newman.

Newman’s No. 39 team was positioned in the final pit stall on the frontstretch. With cars coming around the tight corner from the backstretch pit road, Newman took a cautious approach exiting his box to avoid pit road incidents. While he didn’t get hit, Newman’s car was boxed in twice as other cars pulled in and out of their pit boxes in front of him, causing Newman to drop to 13th in the running order on the restart.

From there, Newman’s day didn’t improve. He battled a tight-handling racecar for most of the afternoon.

“I was so tight; I just couldn’t turn the car,” Newman said. “And it didn’t matter what adjustments we made, it didn’t get any better.”

At each opportunity, the crew made wedge and air pressure adjustments to aid the ill-handling racecar, but nothing seemed to improve the issue. Newman continued to have difficulty turning. The difficulties caused Newman to lose a lap to the leaders just past the midway point of the 500-lap race.

Despite being a lap down and struggling with a car that wouldn’t turn well, Newman and his crew refused to give up. Newman fought to keep himself the first car one lap down, and he was awarded the “Lucky Dog” when the caution waved at lap 361, which put him back on the lead lap.

But the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevy was still too tight and still not turning the way Newman needed it to in order to gain any positions on the racetrack. By lap 467, Newman had once again fallen one lap down to the leaders. Newman kept himself in the position to get a second “Lucky Dog” award, and a caution just 12 laps later gave him one more opportunity to get back on the lead lap for the closing laps of the race.

Newman came down pit road, and his crew made additional wedge and air pressure adjustments, and changed four tires and added fuel. Newman restarted in 14th place at lap 484. He was able to gain two more spots in the final laps of the race to finish 12th.

Newman’s SHR teammate, Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala, finished 14th.

Brad Keselowski won the Food City 500 to score his fifth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his second consecutive victory at Bristol.

Matt Kenseth finished .714 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.

With round four of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is seventh with 130 points, 27 behind series leader Greg Biffle. Newman is 12th with 118 points, 39 out of first.

TSC

Roush Fenway’s Greg Biffle covered the .533 oval of Bristol Motor Speedway in 15.324 seconds (125.215 mph) to win the Sprint Cup pole and cap off a strong performance for RFR that saw Carl Edwards lead the day's Sprint practice session as well.

Edwards qualified eighth for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, while Matt Kenseth will start 21st. Both Edwards and Kenseth have won twice in the Cup Series at Bristol, while Biffle looks for his first win at the track.

The pole is Roush Fenway’s 11th in the Sprint Cup Series at Bristol and its 17th overall. It marks the second straight season RFR has won the pole at the Bristol Spring race. It is Roush Fenway’s second pole in four Sprint Cup events in 2012. The pole is Roush Fenway’s 81st in Sprint Cup and its 213 overall in NASCAR.

In addition, Roush Fenway’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., coming off of last week’s impressive win at Las Vegas, led the final Nationwide Series practice session at Bristol. His teammate Trevor Bayne was third fastest in the session.

Roush Fenway is looking for its 18th NASCAR win at Bristol this weekend.

RFR